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on a lack of hyperbole, being seamless, and bearing witness

Last week, weekend and the past two nights have been a blur, and I am uncharacteristically excited about heading home tonight to lay low, cook kale, make mixes, and run a few loads of laundry. To the point of needing to blog about it. After a stretch of doing only that (maximum downtime) and a stretch of not being able to do it (maximum out-time), I'm looking forward to coming back to a happy medium, although the days ahead seem more busy than not. I have new commitments, a new quarter-and-then-some list of goals, new art projects brewing -- so I don't know if things will slow down anytime soon. But for now, the kale beckons. Tonight will be bliss.

To catch up on it all, I tried to journal what wound up being an open letter to Laura and Dave about the process of their wedding, and how much it meant to me, and how beautiful it was to witness, but I was brought to full-on tears in the coffeeshop this past Sunday morning. I did manage a few verses, and now all of the Feelings are blurred together with the past two nights spent at the Moore for Jeff Mangum's sets, Sunday's family dinner, and a host of other moments that have gotten under my skin of late. I'm full to the brim, to the point of tipping over, and as a result I'm having a hard time figuring out how to begin to let it all out, lest I spill and make a mess of everything.

{From Herkimer, 4/15/12}

Dear Sweet Buddies,

I'm sitting at Herkimer, almost one in the afternoon on the day after your wedding. It's Sunday and I can't stop Feeling all the Things. I'm torn between the hilarity of the photo of Troy and Cody that made its way onto my lock screen and nursing the sweet love hangover that I'm feeling for you both. <3

I've never been involved in a wedding the way that I was in yours, not even for my sister -- where I was not only lending a hand with the planning and logistics, but also taking part first-hand in the experience of people I care about very, very deeply taking a step into the next phase of their lives together. I really feel like we were all bearing literal witness to your unconditional love last night, for each other and your families and the community that surrounds you, kind of like a love-steroid version of Laura's photo opening back in the fall of '09, where we were all separated by one common denominator that was also the thing that bound us together (which was you, buddy) -- and now it's the same, only bigger, and it's both of you.

Playing a part in both the culmination and formal, public expression of all of this isn't even something I can properly assign words to, as I sit here overwhelmed, struck by pangs of emotion, flashing back to the ceremony proper and moments surrounding: the strains of the songs, the first sharp inhalations and how hardly one of us could fight back the tears. It was your day, of course -- but I can't help feeling like we all took those vows together last night, and those vows feel like a part of me now, something that will live on in me forever, in the same (albeit fractional) way that it will live on forever in the two of you. I hope I can hold on to this for a long, long time: how it feels to be blinking back tears of joy amidst the buzz of coffee grinders and strains of the Velvet Underground, and the way this greyday sunlight of a (mostly) bright Seattle day is streaming in the windows and washing across these pages.

I love you both, so much. And I can honestly say, without hyperbole, that I've never been more believing in the love two people can have for each other. Truly. Being at the point in my dating history these last few years where I've loved, lost, struggled, and become (almost) convinced that true love may not actually exist, I find myself full to the brim of the words and vows that you exchanged last night, all parsed through with what an important part of my chosen family that you are -- and I'm struck by the love and support and hope that exists in all the sides of that new structure. I can finally see a glimmer of hope and light instead of a thought-train bearing down with a screech in a dark tunnel. It's the moment of silence after that train is past, the soft, filtering notes that there's room for now, to remind me that true love really will find me in the end, the very same way that it's found to two of you.

I'm afraid to take off the necklace I wore during the ceremony, strange as that seems. It's encapsulated something I can't quite explain and don't want to risk breaking. All I know is that something in me is forever changed since yesterday, that the stack of Polaroids in my mind that means "love" looks different, bigger; and the things I thought I knew are rearranged and smaller, and I owe every ounce of it to what exists between the two of you and how you let me share in something so monumentous and true.

I can't thank you enough for letting me into your lives the way you have.

I'd keep writing about it all, but I can't see the screen through the tears. I managed a few photos of the afternoon and night, and I Can. Not. Wait. to see Kip's photos and what the dude got from the photobooth -- equal parts hilarity, love, drunkness, nudity, face-licking, and all-out bliss.

{The Institution of Jeff Mangum}

Still reeling from that -- unable to get through more than a few sentences with friends and coworkers over the last few days without tears welling up at the beauty of it all, mind you -- the lot of us (us = pretty much everyone I know in Seattle, plus Stephanie) hightailed it to the Moore for Jeff Mangum on Monday night.

It seems like most people I talked to had the same set of expectations pre-set: on a scale of one to demanding magnificence, we were low / barely registering, thrilled but not wanting to make too much of it, prepared for a freak-out, a no-show, or whatever the hell else can happen from someone as heavy duty as Jeff. So, expecting next to nothing, happy to just be in the same few hundred feet -- what the room full of people got during that first night was a powerful, undeniable, almost indescribably great performance. Without hyperbole, it was easily a show to go down in the top ten shows in the history of ever, as Jeff is just as much of an all-out force as he ever was, reproducing the sounds of all those tracks that got into the spaces between our very bones oh-so-many years ago.

To bear witness to a set like that, things you thought you'd never see, a veritable baseline that so many... things and ideas in our collective musical histories and consciousnesses have branched off from -- it was blown-away-ness was coupled with a sense of gratitude and to a slight degree, reverence. In the exact sixty minutes that Jeff had the stage on Monday, we all took that trip together. And pulling up to the house later, Lori and I found ourselves tripping over our own feet to get to our computers to buy what were some of the last single seats on the floor, winding up front row of the pit for Tuesday's show.

I'm sure for people that only saw Tuesday that the show was just as good, but Monday was the magical, incredible night for me -- and Tuesday was the holy fuck, I can't miss a chance at reliving even a little bit of that up close kind of thing. And to top it all off, I managed to record this on my iPhone on Monday night. Sweet Jesus, I can still feel every minute of it, every time I listen.

{Here we go, Sundays}

I had a friend back east who used to call Sundays "Suicide Sundays," because that's how they went down for her. It wasn't for lack of sun or community, she had a nice apartment downtown that I always coveted, clean clothes and a good head on her shoulders. She just would shift into this gear that nothing seemed to be able to pull her out of.

The whole winter here is rough, easier as each one passes, of course, and while Sundays aren't shaped like that for me the way they used to be for that friend, it's safe to say that we do our fair amount of hibernating here in the off-months. Sleep a little more, venture out a little less, and eventually -- for me, at least -- come to almost forget that going out and pushing past the lonely doors that hold us back actually feels better than staying home and tending to the aloneness. I managed to thwart a lot of that this past season by moving into a house with a few other folks, where at the very worst, we're all alone together, and at the very best, we have a mini-community that shifts and holds each other up through the bumpy patches. And to take it up a notch, in the midst of ever-improving winters in Seattle, our friends Rick and Amber decided to start having Family Dinner on Sunday nights at their house. Open door, pile of pasta, food-memory generation for their kids, and some kind of evolved grown-up buddy-time that vaguely mirrors the Sundays of families past, without the cigarettes and the scotch and the card games. And if we're going to call a spade a spade, I don't even like kids. But I love these dinners, and I love these people, and I adore these kids.

I went from arranging my world to be able to stay in to moving things around so that I'd be ready to venture out. And now, I almost can't wait for Sunday afternoons to roll around. Between this, my regular Monday gig, and volunteering at Gay City each Thursday -- coupled with the preexisting bliss of the community of friends and chosen family I find myself in practically every day of the week -- I can honestly say I've never had it so good. Grey days and Sundays included. Grey days and Sundays especially.

Of course, between all of these moments, there have been shows -- on top of the double-whammy Jeff Mangum CutCon 2012 Spectacular, Mike Doughty came through town and stopped at the Triple Door for a show / book reading and Damien Jurado, Jonathan Russell, and a few friends played at Round #83 at the Fremont Abbey. Imaginary postings {words & photos} here and here, flickr sets here and here, and some audio from the Abbey show here.

It seems like an anticlimactic wrap-up, but I think that's all the news that's fit to print at the moment. Happy spring, everybody. Careful out there in that (sometimes) sun. XO

catching up: most of may, part I